Group D: Korea Republic 3-0 Australia
Kuala Lumpur: Korea Republic kicked off their AFC U-16 Championship Malaysia 2018 Group D campaign in style as they defeated Australia 3-0 at the Petaling Jaya Stadium on Saturday.
Australia were the faster to settle and controlled the early possession and created scoring opportunities but the opening goal eluded them.
Korea Republic were happy to sit back but looked dangerous on the break as Hong Yun-sang showed when dribbled past several defenders en route to goal but he pulled his effort high off target in the fourth minute.
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It was a tightly contested affair in midfield but Korea Republic gradually came together as they looked more fluid in attack.
Australia’s had their first shot on target from a free-kick in the 26th minute when Luke Duzel curled his effort around the wall but Korea Republic goalkeeper Shin Song-hoon parried it away.
Korea Republic finally broke the deadlock in the 42nd minute when Choi Min-seo latched on to Seo Jaemin’s long-range pass, turned Jordan Courtney-Perkins and fired a clinical finish to give Kim Jung-soo’s men the lead.
Australia were unlucky not to go into the break level as Tritan Hammond made a clever run into the box, beat three defenders and unleashed a shot which forced a fingertip save from Shin.
Korea Republic kept the pressure up in the second half and doubled their advantage in the 51st minute after Hong Yun-sang beat the offside trap to score past Australia goalkeeper Ahmad Taleb.
The young Taeguk Warriors continued their assault on the Australian defence and came close to finding the net in the 63rd minute after Seo Jae-min made his way into the box but pulled his effort just wide off the post.
Cracks in Australia’s defence began to show as Choi Min-seo caught their opponents by surprise off a counter-attack when he curled his effort past Taleb to give Korea Republic a 3-0 lead in the 68th minute.
Australia tried to put up a fight but were unable to match Korea Republic’s speed and agility as Kim’s side collected the three points.
Kim Jung Soo: Korea Republic head coach
"We encountered a strong opponent today and maybe felt a little bit of pressure before the game but we played well and made a good start to the tournament. We tried to find space between the lines. These players are young and if we made any mistakes in the beginning they can be a little fragile, so we tried to play as simple as possible in the first half. Then in the second half, we did much better in all aspects especially in the high pressure, in defence and also the transitions. We were able to show what we are capable of and play more calm in the second half."
Trevor Morgan: Australia head coach
"The scoresheet will tell you that Korea were very smooth in transition. The played a simple game which was to press high and they got some momentum from that. Korea are a team that had a lot of preparation, they won the match tonight and executed what they wanted to do better than we did. We have another match in three days and we have the opportunity to show that we are better footballers than people may think. We have good character and we don't give up without a challenge."
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